by Matt Coleridge
The Blues came into this match in unfamiliar form for this league at least, off the back of 2 no bonus point losses against bottom half opposition while Sedgley have had contrasting fortunes under new coach Matt Bebbington, who actually spent some shadowing the Macclesfield backroom staff last season learning what he could, winning four out of five.
On another wet, soggy day The Cheshire side started with the bulk of possession but made little headway before Sedgley struck first. Nick Allsop’s box kick was too long for his own players and the home side’s back 3 ran it back down the opposite wing, Andy Riley the man touching down after Jamie Harrison made the gap for him for 5 minutes in.
Macc had an opportunity in the Sedge ’22 but were unable to take advantage before surrendering territory for a long spell, unable to get out of their own 22 for much of that period although they defended well and were careful not to give away any penalties.
Eventually the Blues managed to work their way up field, in no small way thanks to their kicking game, and Myles Hall finished off in the corner after a Joe Palmer offload following a lateral backs’ move off the platform laid by the forwards in the Lancashire team’s ’22.
But Sedge were having none of that and immediately truck back with Ashley Platt-Hughes latching onto Matt Riley’s offload after he had busted through the Blues’ defence off a lineout on the half hour.
Macc managed to collect three points from the boot of Lewis Barker from in front of the posts after another ’22 visit, before they botched an exit maul and Harrison took full advantage scoring in the corner from the turnover on the stroke of half time (21-10).
If the lads had had a stern talking to at half time it hadn’t taken effect yet when Sedgley’s winger Glass retained a chip and chase on the kick return from the kick off exit, and Birtwell picked and carried over despite the close attention of 3 defenders only to be held up but Steve Collins’ got his hands free from the tackle from the scrum and Ashley Platt-Hughes was again the recipient to go under the posts (28-10 after 43 minutes).
The Blues were sparked into life, putting together numerous phases and gaining metres more regularly now playing close off the ruck, and also managed the game a lot better in the second half pegging the home side back. However, numerous lineouts in advanced positions were not retained and therefore Sedgley were repeatedly let off the hook without too much effort being demanded of them. This weeks’ big refereeing question mark will remain ‘did Matt Thorp ground the ball?’. The men in blue made in roads into the Tiger’s red zone thanks to a powerful break from lock Franky Barker only for Lancashire veteran Steve Collins to be yellow carded for in the way of the pass off 9 at the next phase. From the resulting scrum Allsop put Thorp through a gap to all but get over, putting both arms out over his head backwards only for the last man to ‘knee’ the ball out of his hands before grounding…according to the ref, although perhaps it was justice as there appeared to be suspicious pass earlier in the set.
If the comeback was to happen it needed to start there and so it was a little overdue when Nico Nyemba managed to get his maiden Macclesfield score on their next visit to the Sedge ’22, on 68 minutes (28-15). It was a nice moment for Nyemba after a tough performance last week at the lineout and to be fair his carrying was strong all day today. That was the Blues’ last visit to the home side’s line and it was they who wrestled back control after a long series of exchanges in the middle of the park and a maul penalty allowed them to kick to the corner and maul over to complete the victory (35-15).
Special mention should be made to Sedge’s 10 Steve Collins who manoeuvred them around the park well, centre Matt Riley was a gainline threat as always and Rob Birtwell was a strong contender for man of the match also but despite the result that tag should be reserved for a Macclesfield player, as flanker Liam Parfitt, formerly of England U18s Counties and Sale Sharks put in a blistering display that he and the club should be very proud of. He fronted up well where others did not and played with real physicality in attack and defence, pretty much covering every blade of grass in the process.
This run is starting to become a bit of a concern for Macclesfield as 2 out of 6 is not the start they would have hoped for but then again we are only 6 games in and if we recall Premiership Champions Exeter Chiefs started with 6 defeats last year so we should remember nothing is final in October except September. But the boys do need to start out enthusing the opposition and taking the physical game to them rather than finding the motivation on the hour when the game needs to be clawed back and silly errors that concede territory and possession need eradicating. However the amount of youngsters being blooded and the way they are stepping up is encouraging for the long term, of note Israel’s Tom Burden.
Coaches’ Perspective – Giles Heagerty
“We were naïve today I think, that would be the best way to describe it, we got to give credit to Sedgley they were physical they certainly probably out-enthused us I nthat first half for sure, and I think probably cost us as it left us with far too much to do, but we just have to get a little bit more swagger back in our step.’
See the BluesTV highlights here:
- Berry 2. Nyemba 3. Robinson 4. F. Barker 5. Marwick 6. Palmer 7. Parfitt 8. Thorp 9. Allsop 10. L. Barker 11. Hall 12. Davenport 13 Smith © 14. Parry 15. Reed 16. Sherratte 17. Poole 18. Lacey 19. Burden 20. Broster